Commuters had hectic time at Onitsha, Anambra state, Tuesday, as Tipper drivers under the auspices of Animo Tipper Drivers’ Association of Nigeria, the God’s own Tipper owners and Drivers’ Association, and the Ihiala LGA Tipper workers Association and drivers, blocked three lanes of Enugu/Onitsha expressway by the popular Uga junction in protest of the state government alleged violation of court judgment.
The over one thousand placards bearing drivers, who were agitating over alleged imposition of taxes, extortion and brutalisation by the state government, said they decided to adopt the peaceful demonstration since the government was yet to address their grievances despite various appeals, correspondences and visitations to decision makers.
Blueprint learnt that drivers with six and 12 cubic tippers were respectively taxed N100 and N200 daily during the tenure of former governor Peter Obi, while the incumbent government was allegedly taxing them N700 and N1400 per a trip of laterite, gravel, sands or stones.
As a result, they approached a federal High court sitting in Awka.
The court in a Suit Number FHC/AWK/CS/104/2017, held that the Anambra state government, officials of the state ministry of environment, their agents and privies and other persons acting by or through them, have no right to make laws or rules, formulate policies, impose taxes or levies and or charge and collect dues or revenue on sand, stones, laterite, gravel and the like.
Speaking to newsmen, Comrade Emmanuel Ezeokafor, the Coordinator, Anambra Tipper Drivers Association, alleged that the state government neither obey nor appeal the judgment since 2018 but was rather employing the services of law enforcement agents in intimidating and harassing his members to be paying the ‘obnoxious’ tax.
Ezeokafor, who explained that the drivers had in several occasion, sought audience with the governor unsuccessfully, added that they had written petitions and memorandum of understanding where they requested to be allowed as a union to tax their members as they (the drivers would agree to pay) and remit same to the government monthly as other transporters do but their plea failed on deaf ears.
On his part, an activist and coordinator, Recover Nigeria Project (RNP), Comrade Osita Obi, who joined the protest, condemned the alleged intimidation, harassment and collection of levies from tipper drivers, as according to him, it negates section 4(2), section 4(3) and item 39 in the Exclusive Legislative List in the second schedule (part) of the constitution of federal republic of Nigeria 1999; section 1 and section 164 of the Nigeria Mining ACT 2007; section 1 and section 2 of the Taxes and levies (approved list for collection) CAP T2 Laws of the federation of Nigeria; and could also lead the drivers into banditry, kidnapping, among other crimes.
The President General, Great Tippers Association, Anambra state chapter, Chief Ebuka Davidson Orakwe, while stressing that the protest which was 8th they had held across major towns in the state would continue until the state government hearken to their demands as the obnoxious taxation had caused most of his members to relocate from Anambra to other states in the South East geopolitical zone.